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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bible Examples of Zen - Creation (Genesis 1)

Zen is very difficult to explain. Many masters would say that it is impossible.

I found a good read about it over ----> here.

I am glad that the page also touches on the Tao a bit too because that is kind of where this little series is leading. I have no idea how many posts I will make on the subject but I guess I could just keep going until I run out of things to talk about.

I used to think that if one looked hard and far enough, or just simply "had eyes to see" that everything in the universe circled back to showing the ineffability of Christianity. Then the more I thought and observed as much of what I could that was going on I started to have more and more disconnects; at least with the particular frame of mind that I was using. The base of Christianity is the absolute belief in a real "tangible" god who can be explained and interacted with on that basis of understanding.

Much of traditional Western Buddhism is atheistic, in that it is a philosophical system that exists without god(s). It doesn't do so to the outright exclusion of god or in the sense of denial of a god or gods, but it just doesn't usually include divinity as part of the current landscape. It is more attentive to what is earthly and in the here and now.

Taoism seems to be a middle road between the two. There is a belief that the Tao is "god" but not in the traditional sense. The Tao is living and active as a general force that is transcendent over all things...but it is not personal, nor can it be explained. It can mystically be interacted with and experienced but it ultimately cannot be explained sufficiently.

With those ideas in mind, I was driving one day and thinking about the original "creation" and "fall" story from the Bible and these are some of the parallels that I drew between Zen-Tao and the Hebrew stories themselves. This one is on the creation account from Genesis 1.

The Creation story is all about contrasts.

Light and Darkness were separated but one would not be there without knowledge of the other since Light is the absence of Darkness, and Darkness is the absence of Light.

The "waters" were separated. Now, I don't know exactly that that might mean to the Hebrew mindset but what I do see is the contrast of Above and Below. An expanse separated the waters creating a dividing space between the two. We do not know Down without the relationship to Up and vice-versa.

Land and Water are separated. This is another contrast between two different states. Wet would imply the absence of land. Dry land would imply the absence of wet water. Another contrast that cannot be understood without both sides.

Each of these shows contrast and co-existence in order for validation of definition. We use these definitions all the time to separate classes of things....the problem is that we have classed the contrasts into "opposites." Even our own ideas of contrasting "what is" and "what is not" can too easily be defined as opposites....things that even stand opposing the other. We usually see opposition as a bad thing. Not always so.

The rest of the first chapter is all about places for things; birds in the air, creatures in the sea, beasts on the land, and man.

There is nothing by way of definition here concerning food chain. All of this just simply is. There is no force, no definition, no struggle. In a sense this is Zen. If this picture were to be painted it would depict a very peaceful co-existence between all of the animals and man and if any of these components from the story were missing then the picture would be incomplete.

Everything in this picture looks automatic. There is a design and something animating all things. This might be the Tao or a picture of it, but it is also Zen in that all things are one and co-dependent.

Bye for now.


Blogger Cooper said...

your last few posts have intrigued me. Being burned out by Christian concepts over the past decade and my alcohol abuse left me spiritually 'dead'. I've been sober for 25 months now and whether or not it was the alcohol or it was Ego I breached the gap of an agnostic view on God to more of being connected to a Higher Power as AA's like to call It.

I can't place myself in any religion at this point. Christianity didn't meet my demands or expectations. But I do know, or convinced, I wouldn't be around if there wasn't a Higher Power.

One thing that I am convinced is that all truth is God's truth. Whatever source that comes from (Biblical Christianity, Bhuddism, Tao, or Islam) it seems and feels right. But that may change.

January 23, 2010 at 7:02 PM  
Blogger greg said...

How about this for a description of Zen.

The things we say about Zen are not Zen. Rather they're water that flows over the landscape. Eventually the water drains away and disappears. The landscape remains, but it is changed by the water. Zen is not the landscape, nor is Zen the process of water flowing over land. These are all just words.

January 26, 2010 at 4:13 PM  
Blogger The Raging Paradoxidation said...

Cooper, I am glad to hear that you are keeping sober and have found a higher power that is able to assist you. I don't think that it is necessary to have to place yourself in any religion. Like my previous post said, I think that we have to be what we are and then if we find something along the way that agrees with where we are then great...if not, then all the same.

Greg, I think that might be a good way to explain Zen. No matter what we try to say it is always going to fall short. Zen just is...and is not.

I am also looking down the road of Taoism. It seems to provide a good balance to Zen. I'll write more about that as I discover it.

January 27, 2010 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger The Shaman said...

Very interesting to find your blog. I am in the process now of making a video representation of Creation and utilizing different creation myths.

It is an amateur projuect to be sure, but it is visually and philosophically appealing.

September 19, 2010 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger The Raging Paradoxidation said...


Thank you for reading. I have really done a poor job of keeping this blog up. I hope to do better by getting back into the swing of things in the next week or so.

I would be very interested to see what all you have put together.

I will also check out your blog as well.

Thanks for reading and for your comment.

September 19, 2010 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Justin said...

I have a very nebulous idea about how Zen and the "spirit" mentioned in the New Testament interrelate. When I think about "the law" vs "the spirit" I think about the difference in the normal way of thinking about what we should be doing versus a state of Zen mindfulness.

"There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Rom. 8:1) ("For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God") Those who are in Christ Jesus are free from the law of sin and death because they are under the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:2) We already saw what being under the law of sin and death does to a person: it slays them."

My search for "god" started when I looked at the words used to describe him. "Holy" was the most common. It simply means "separate" in the original Hebrew. When I think about the moments in life that were truly distinct, I am reminded of deep moments of human connection and love, flashes of creativity, coincidences that are too perfect to describe. Immersible experiences when I was deeply living without living within the past or future. To me, my pursuit of "god" involves Zen and other ways of viewing the world which bring me in contact with the "separate" and when I do not try to control my behavior but can simply be and exist...

October 31, 2012 at 10:02 AM  

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